Can bargaining be a legitimate e-commerce model ?

By July 26, 2012
netotiate map of the web

E-commerce bargaining site Netotiate brings interactivity and haggling to online shopping. Bringing more flexibility to merchant and customer interaction online, these novel additions could increase customer loyalty and engagement.

Most parts of the shopping experience are readily available online - and now so is haggling, thanks to Netotiate. Customers have benefited from price flexibility thanks to product comparison tools - if they don’t like one vendor’s prices they can simply flit to another, more competitive retailer. For merchants, this translates to customer loss or at least a lack of loyalty. On Netotiate’s site, customers can name a price to participating retailers, who then will respond within 48 hours to accept, counter or decline. The offer is anonymous, but is exclusive and binding.

Customers make binding offers on products and merchants accept or counter

Netotiate has built a variety of features into their negotiating service to benefit both customers and merchants. A price verification bar helps customers to determine what price will likely be accepted by a merchant. Meanwhile, creating this interactive marketplace has given merchants the opportunity to engage with already interested customers. Instead of losing business because a product was deemed to be too expensive, the customer suggests a lower price. At this point the customer has committed to one seller if the offer is accepted. That limitation, and another that limits customers to one offer per merchant in the binding agreement protects merchants from being flooded with “might-as-well” offers from casual shoppers.

Merchants and customers have rated profiles for more trust on the site

Since merchants and customers are bound to these various rules, both sides can be rated and reviewed by other users. If a customer does not complete accepted offer purchases, for example, this can adversely affect their profile, and eventually lead to being blocked from future transactions. Bargaining is an inherently more personal way to conduct business, so a way to verify Netotiate members is essential in an otherwise impartial e-commerce setting. While smaller vendors are participating so far, with the potential benefits that bargaining offers perhaps it will win the attention of larger online storefronts.

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